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With Costa Rica to the south and Honduras to the north, Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America with an abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems. Located entirely within the Tropics, Nicaragua protects nearly a quarter of its territory in national parks, nature reserves and biological reserves. This small group itinerary—never more than 16 guests—focuses on the lowland lagoons and forests, freshwater lakes, volcanic mountains and Colonial cities of Nicaragua's Pacific Coast. With two-night stays in each locale, the unhurried pace allows you to immerse yourself in the daily life, surprising history and pristine habitats of this uniquely beautiful and diverse nation.
Your journey begins in Nicaragua's capital, Managua, the third-largest city in Central America. A sightseeing tour includes the colonial-era Old Town and the National Historic Park of Loma de Tiscapa, home to one of Managua’s most iconic landmarks, the towering silhouette statue of revolutionary leader Augusto Nicolas Calderon Sandino. Later, take a boat excursion across Lake Nicaragua for a two-night stay on the amazing Ometepe Island, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve accessible only by ferry. Formed by two volcanoes, the island has been inhabited for centuries. On the slopes of Maderas Volcano, view remnants of petroglyphs and stone idols as old as 300 BC. And in the Charco Verde Nature Reserve, see abundant wildlife such as capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, armadillos, anteaters plus a variety of birds such as heron, magpies, owls and hawks. When you're not wildlife spotting, lounge on one of the island's best beaches or watch the sunset from your hotel balcony.
Then head to the city of Granada. Founded in 1524, Granada is the third oldest Colonial-era city in the Americas. A sightseeing tour includes a wealth of beautifully preserved Colonial architecture and its stunning location on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. Visit nearby Mombacho Volcano for a guided nature walk around the crater. This unique ecosystem provides the ideal conditions for more than 90 species of orchids. Conclude your adventure in the city of Leon, where you'll visit the nearby ruins of Old Leon on the shores of Lake Managua. You’ll also take a motorboat excursion to Juan Venado Nature Reserve, which includes a barrier island and an ecologically important mangrove forest. The area is an ideal home for an abundance of animal life - particularly marine creatures such as sea turtles, cayman, crocodiles, iguanas, crustaceans and more.
• 8 nights in deluxe and first-class hotels: 2 nights each in Managua, Ometepe Island, Granada and Leon
• 13 meals - Daily breakfast and 5 lunches
• All on-tour transportation, including ferries
• Services of a professional trip leader
• Comprehensive escorted sightseeing with all entry fees
• Hotel to hotel baggage handling
Day 1 - Welcome to Managua
AAA Complimentary Inclusion: Enjoy a complimentary extra night in Managua before your tour at the centrally located InterContinental Hotel, including breakfast the following day.
Accommodation: InterContinental Hotel - 2 nights
Day 2 - Managua
Enjoy a day to relax or explore this historic city on your own.
Day 3 - Managua & Ometepe Island
Discover Managua’s Old Town and modern districts, including a visit to the National Historic Park of Loma de Tiscapa. Learn more about the city’s dramatic past and see the ruins of the once grand Presidential Palace. Engaging Experience: Travel across the calm lake waters to Ometepe Island. Accessible only by ferry, this remote and unique UNESCO Biosphere Reserve was formed by two volcanoes in the middle of Lake Nicaragua’s vast expanse.
Accommodation: Villa Paraiso Hotel - 2 nights
Day 4 - Exploring Ometepe Island
Engaging Experience: Your day begins on the forested slopes of the Maderas Volcano, once the site of an ancient civilization whose legacy you will encounter in the form of ancient petroglyphs. Then visit the Ometepe Museum and continue into Charco Verde Nature Reserve, nestled at the base of two volcanoes and home to a variety of the island’s wildlife including monkeys, armadillos and anteaters.
Day 5 - The Colonial Grandeur of Granada
Travel by ferry and over land to Granada, the oldest Colonial city in the Americas. Engaging Experience: Enjoy a guided tour featuring the town’s most celebrated architectural landmarks including La Merced Church and San Francisco Convent, now home to a fine collection of pre- Columbian sculpture. Enjoy two nights in Granada with free time to take in more of its charm and ambience.
Accommodation: Plaza Colon Hotel - 2 nights
Day 6 - Mombacho Volcano Crater Tour
Engaging Experience: Enjoy a guided nature walk around the crater of Mombacho Volcano and learn about this unique ecosystem, home to more than 90 species of orchids. Your afternoon is free to explore more of Granada’s Colonial-era ambience at your own pace.
Day 7 - Masaya Volcano and Colonial Leon
Set out this morning for Masaya National Park, home to the Masaya Lagoon – an unusual volcanic lake. Learn about the region’s natural and cultural history at the Museum before exploring Santiago Crater, active since 1946, and experience daily life at the Masaya Market, also a great place to find artisan handicrafts.
Engaging Experience: Travel to the shores of Lake Managua to visit the ruins of Old Leon, established by the Spanish in the 16th century and recognized today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue on to the modern-day city of Leon to visit the home of Nicaragua’s beloved poet, Ruben Dario, and tour the Colonial-era Cathedral, the largest in Central America.
Accommodation: El Convento Hotel - 2 nights
Day 8 - Juan Venado Nature Reserve
Engaging Experience: Explore this pristine reserve by motorboat where mangrove forests and a barrier island are home to abundant animal life. Return to Leon in mid-afternoon where the rest of the day is free to explore more of this handsome and captivating town at your own pace.
Day 9 - Farewell, Nicaragua
Your tour ends this morning after breakfast.
Limitations & Restrictions
*Prices are per person based on double occupancy, are subject to availability at time of booking, and may change without notice. Price given based on Jan 8 - Apr 23, 2015 departures; rates for other departure dates may be higher. Single supplement may apply. The $100 per person Family & Friends savings is based on 4 people traveling together. Note that if a single traveler brings a couple for a total of 3 people traveling together, then all guests receive an extra $50 per person discount (not $100). Except for packages including air transportation, unless stated otherwise, airfare, taxes and government fees are not included. Offers valid for new bookings only. Member Benefits are per person and apply to first and second traveler only. Member Benefits are available only with advertised fare and are subject to change without notice. Your travel arrangements may be modified or canceled subject to the travel providers’ policies. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. We make every effort for accuracy at time of printing but reserve the right to correct errors. AAA Travel strongly recommends the purchase of trip protection insurance. Except for packages including air transportation, fares may not reflect additional fuel supplement or port charges and vary by provider.
**Restrictions apply to the AAA Vacations® Best Price Guarantee and 24/7 Member Care. Should you find a valid better rate for the exact same itinerary within 24 hours of booking, AAA will match the lower rate. Ask your AAA Travel Counselor for details.
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